By Jennifer McGraw

STANISLAUS COUNTY(CBS13) – Local dairy farmers say they’re under attack by animal rights activists and have been warned of planned protesters.

“We’ve been told that they are planning something or that they could be planning something, so to be vigilant,” said Hank Van Exel of Lodi.

Van Exel is a third-generation dairyman, his cows are his life.

“That’s my deal. I love cattle,” he said.

But over the years he’s been harassed, terrorized, and even threatened.

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“I was called a murderer, I was called a child molester, and a rapist of all things,” he said.

One major reason Exel has been called these names is based on how animal rights activists believe these calves are being treated. The activists have called the cages the calves live in veal huts.

“It’s just a lack of education,” Exel added.

The calves he has now are only a few days old, they’re separated to prevent disease and death, and after a few weeks, they will live together. These calves will never be sold as veal.

“The death loss here is under 2 percent. I’d say if they were running out with their mothers they would have a 30 percent death loss,” he said.

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Exel said the death loss is due to infections and the spread of disease.

Recently, an activist group Direct Action Everywhere, came onto another dairy farm north of Oakdale to save what they believed was a dying calf. The three women were arrested, charged with trespassing and grand theft.

“We have laws and protections in place to rescue animals,” said Julianne Perry who was arrested.

She says the arrests were unjust.

“We still maintain what we did was right, we are whistleblowers, and we are actually going to go back to that farm,” she added.

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Hank says that’s the trouble, many of these activists are unaware, keeping these cows alive and happy is what’s best for them and California.

“If you take care of them, then they will take care of us. That’s the model we try to live by,” he said.

We contacted the Sherrif’s department to find out what happened to the calf and haven’t heard back.

Jennifer McGraw

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